“It’s about you and me.”

I sat down in Union square after lunch, like any other day. People walking and the traffic bustling down Geary Street reminded me of the city that I had always loved. The sky-blue heart sitting beside me with wisps of white paint mirrored the sky above.

Then out of the corner of my eye I saw him; a gruff looking old man with unruly white hair that covered his entire face standing ten yards away. People walked through the park towards their destinations, eyes down, ear buds in. But as they passed the white-haired man he would greet them with, “Have a great day!”

He must have repeated this act over 100 times in a 30-minute period. As I stood up to leave, he turned to me and I parroted back the phrase I had heard him say many times. The corners of his mouth stretched into a smile and revealed his surprisingly white teeth.

The gruff looking man is a homeless man named “LP.” Living in Denver until 1996, he became dissatisfied with our world, and discarded all his unnecessary possessions. “It’s about you and me,” he says. “That’s all I’m trying to do is get people to get in contact with themselves, and with things around them, which is people, not machines.”

LP moved to San Francisco in order to connect with the “out of touch” society. He described our society by contrasting with the collective nature that is seen in most other animal species. The man went on to explain the “Hundredth Monkey Effect” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundredth_monkey_effect) and how birds work collectively to survive, an aspect of survival he said has been lost in human culture. And by doing his “job”, he strives to bring us back together. This sounds like an overly ambitious goal for a man of his caliber, but as he quoted Patrick Henry: “Give me liberty or give me death” he asserted that he will continue to try to correct our mislead society.

Though sometimes people ignore and lash out against LP’s greetings, he says, almost 90 percent of the responses are good and genuine. And he states that these are the people that give him hope for our society, and let him know what he is doing is worth something.

LP does not worry about pennies on the sidewalk, or even dollar bills in his pocket, he would much rather interact with people. The satisfaction he gains from just making one person’s day “comes back 1000 times,” and that’s all he needs to survive.

LP chooses to be homeless, not because he likes living on the streets but because he believes in the change he is trying to create. He strives to connect people by drawing their eyes away from the screens and other superficial things in life in order to direct people’s attention to the world around them. Though his lifelong goal may seem is trifling, just a few simple words can make a difference and cause people to turn from their phones towards the people beside them.

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